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  • Published
    April 13, 2012

    New book encourages fruit growing

    Lee Reich is one of my favorite garden writers. He has a way of explaining cultural techniques clearly and simply — and with enough information to enable a reader to try a project. His 2001 book, “Weedless Gardening,” is one such example. He also inspires readers to try new plants, maintaining the excitement of gardening. His 2004 book, “Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden,” is a good example of that. Now, with his …

  • Published
    March 3, 2012

    Multi-use mulberry

    Brian Snyder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, said at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference last November that in Costa Rica, mulberry trees are cut back annually, and the green shoots are ground into a feed containing 22 percent protein – good for hog production. The tree trunks also provide posts for single strand electric fencing. “Maybe we don’t need any corn and …

  • Published
    February 4, 2012

    Vermicomposting: Winter project prepares for spring planting

    Tired of trekking out to the compost bin in winter? Consider vermicomposting. Vermicomposts, according to the Soil Ecology Laboratory at the Ohio State University, “are organic materials, broken down by interactions between earthworms and microorganisms, in a mesophilic process (up to 25 C, 77 F), to produce fully-stabilized organic soil amendments with low C:N ratios.” They’re also a convenient way to recycle …

  • Published
    January 21, 2012

    Joe Pye Weed: It’s for the birds (and bees, and butterflies)

    Looking to make a splash in the flower border or perennial garden? Consider planting a mass of the native perennial Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum). Come summer, once the plants are established, great domes of pinkish-purple, vanilla-scented flower heads will seem to float like clouds – usually more than six feet high – in the garden. Up close, you’ll have to look up to see the plant’s fragrant flowers, and …

  • Published
    January 7, 2012

    Dawn redwood: A tree for the new year

    The new year is a good time to think about planting an old tree – one so old that it was virtually unknown until fossils of it were found in 1941. The dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, was then thought to be extinct, until Asian botanists found the tree growing in a secluded part of Sichuan Province in central China. Harvard University botanists then visited the area and, in 1944, took seeds of the tree …

  • Published
    December 25, 2011

    Take steps this winter to support pollinators

    With the solstice on Dec. 22, gardeners begin to anticipate longer days. From the shortest days of eight hours, 50 minutes, 51 seconds on Dec. 21 and 22 (based on sunrise and sunset in Augusta), we’ll be all the way up to eight hours, 57 minutes by Jan. 3; 9 hours by Jan. 6; 10 hours by Feb. 5; and 11 by Feb. 26. It’s all sunny skies, garden-wise, from there. Onion seedlings will have sprouted; the packet of …

  • Published
    November 27, 2011

    Plot landscape plans now

    With the squashes and potatoes stored for winter, garlic planted for summer, bulbs planted for spring, there’s one more garden project that’s great for fall days: Plotting your existing landscape and planning its future. One way to start is to find your yard on Google Earth (downloaded free from google.com/earth/index) and outline it so that you have an overall map for reference. To find your yard once you’ve …

  • Published
    November 13, 2011

    Storage crops for winter

    Did you grow enough squash, onions, garlic and other easily stored crops to last through winter? If not, consider getting these crops now at a winter farmers’ market or from a local grower. A butternut squash with a red ribbon on it, or a braid of onions or garlic, would make a great holiday gift as well. How much to buy? Here are consumption figures for an average American family of four (for fresh foods – not …

  • Published
    October 16, 2011

    Hügelkultur: Making garden beds with woody material

    Here’s a new gardening term, for me, at least: Hügelkultur. A German word for “mound beds,” hügelkultur involves gardening in beds or windrows created largely from woody debris. At the Common Ground Country Fair, gardener Jack Kertesz presented a demonstration hügelkultur bed that he started in May by hauling cartloads of dead hardwood branches to a strip of grassy ground and placing them on top of the grass. …

  • Published
    October 2, 2011

    Nature abhors a vacuum

    You know the old saying that nature abhors a vacuum? That was certainly true for the Japanese beetles in Carole Whelan’s Hope garden this summer. The insects arrived just after a 500-person garden tour at her Birds ‘n’ Bees Farm (landscaped to support birds, pollinators and to feed the Whelans). In three days, the beetles denuded the Virginia creeper over her deck. Virginia creeper berries reportedly feed …

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